Former Met Police buildings go on sale across London

Former Hackney Central police station. Photo: Knight Frank
Former Hackney Central police station – one of a number of sites currently being marketed. Photo: Knight Frank

In March this year the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) announced that they would be closing a number of police stations as part of moves to save a forecast £60m, with 29 of the buildings to be sold off.

A few days ago I noticed that one of the sites earmarked for disposal – the former Hackney Central police station – had gone on the market with estate agents Knight Frank, resulting in this story for the Hackney Citizen.

The turnaround between the police leaving the building and the site being listed for sale has been quick – less than a month between it closing its doors as a police station and the site being put up for sale.

And a quick browse on property site Zoopla turns up listings for a number of other former police stations which have been listed with similar speed:

A few more stories: Manchester Evening News

Another short post, just to pull together the output of a couple of weeks spent working with Trinity Mirror Regionals’ recently established data journalism unit.

Manchester Evening News logo

The unit have adopted a smart operating model that makes the most of the reach of the Regionals group of papers, and the fact that, when it comes to dealing with national datasets, story ideas can be worked up efficiently by one central team before being offered to local teams.

Similarly, if something works well as an FOI request in one part of the country then in many cases it will work well elsewhere too.

The focus of my work with the unit was therefore on supporting the whole Regionals family. I did find some data/story ideas which lent themselves to stories for the Manchester Evening News, though, and – originating from that part of the country – couldn’t resist writing those myself. Stories as follows:

There also seems to be widespread acceptance across the group of the benefits which a good visualisation can bring to a web story, so I produced a couple of interactive maps, used by the MEN, and the Newcastle Chronicle.

Flooding in south London, police misconduct charges and … Obama’s bunny ears

Another short post, just to link to some things I’ve done in the last two weeks – spent working with the digital news team of the Times and Sunday Times.

Much of my time was spent on a number of longer-term data journalism projects which – until publication – I won’t be posting about.

Needless to say, though, heavy use was The Times masthead smallmade of Google Fusion Tables and ScraperWiki, as well as
healthy amounts of Excel. The fortnight Sunday Times masthead smallgave me the best reason I’ve had to date to experiment with scraping, so that was a really good thing.

I also wrote a number of online news stories, ranging from the serious to the thoroughly silly season. Links to most of the articles I wrote here:

Police officers face charges over strip-search of woman

Basketball team’s prank puts ‘bunny ears’ on the President

Teenagers arrested after ‘swan-nabbing’

Streets in Herne Hill, South London, under water after main bursts

British volunteer women teachers hurt in acid attack in Zanzibar

All behind the great paywall of Wapping, but the first three paragraphs are yours for nothing.

Latest cuttings: Full Fact and Hackney Citizen

A short post, just to link to a few things I’ve done recently.

Firstly, a couple of articles which I wrote for factchecking website Full Fact:

Full Fact logoAre only 1% of illegal immigrants deported?

Getting higher: has mephedrone use increased by 300% since it was banned?

I’m a big fan of what Full Fact do – calling out media organisations and politicians over dubious claims they’ve made and misleading use of statistics. Although a small organisation, they have an impressive track record of getting dodgy claims corrected.

I also wrote an article for the Hackney Citizen on a police request for a review of the licence of The Dolphin on Mare Street – a move which has led to howls of despair from the pub’s large fanbase.

Oxbridge in thrall to applicants from the south-east

Oxbridge in thrall to applicants from the south-east

A ‘golden triangle’ of local authorities centred on London, Oxford and Cambridge send a disproportionate number of students to Oxbridge, as Richard Adams and I report for the Guardian:

Undergraduate places at Cambridge and Oxford universities remain dominated by students from London and the south-east of England, according to data released to the Guardian, highlighting the country’s wide gaps in educational achievement and the stubborn failure of efforts to encourage applications from more diverse backgrounds.

Surrey sent almost as many young people to study at Cambridge and Oxford last year as Wales and the north-east region of England combined. Yet 868 applications were received from Surrey, compared with 1,187 from Wales and the north-east – which between them had more than 100,000 more young people in the comparative age group.

A single London borough – Barnet – alone had 130 offers of Oxbridge places from 408 applications last year. That equates to 46 applications and 15 offers for every 1,000 16 to 17-year-olds in the borough, according to the latest census figures. Meanwhile, Dudley in the West Midlands – with a similar-sized age cohort – had just 61 applicants and 13 offers, or seven applications and 1.58 offers per thousand.

Three London local authorities – Richmond upon Thames, Kensington and Chelsea, and the City of London – sent more than 25 students to Oxbridge per 1,000 16 to 17-year-olds in 2012, compared with an average of just over 2.5 students per 1,000 for England and Wales as a whole.

You can read the full story here, and an accompanying analysis piece can be found here.

The story was based on freedom of information requests I submitted to Oxford and Cambridge universities. I’ll be posting more about the data behind the story shortly.

Hackney Council in school offer letters mix-up

A number of Hackney families were sent primary school offer letters containing details about other people’s children, as I report in a story for the Hackney Citizen:

Hackney Council has apologised after “a very small number” of families received details of other people’s children in primary school place offer letters sent out last week.

Sarah Miller, who lives in Homerton, contacted the council after receiving a pack that contained the name, date of birth and school offer details of another child.

The main letter in the offer pack related to Ms Miller’s daughter but a second document, which gave details of how to decline a place that had been offered, contained details of another child who shared the same surname.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, Ms Miller said that the incident was “pretty worrying”. She had been left wondering where the second part of her family’s offer pack had gone. “I don’t know who’s got the details of my child”, she said.

You can read the full story here. After I filed the story, Hackney Council confirmed that they were aware of seven offer letters that had been sent out containing details of someone else’s child.

Efes Snooker Club fights loss of licence

Efes in Dalston can carry on serving alcohol – for now – as I report in the Hackney Citizen:

A popular Dalston bar and community centre is fighting a decision to strip it of its alcohol licence.

Efes Snooker Club, on Stoke Newington Road, has submitted an appeal to Thames magistrates’ court after the bar’s licence was revoked in a council licensing hearing in February.

The hearing was prompted by a police request, which cited multiple alleged breaches of licence conditions.

Among the incidents cited by the police was an occasion where an undercover police officer was able to bring a weapon into the bar unchallenged.

Efes was given 21 days in which to lodge an appeal, and by doing so the bar is now able to carry on serving alcohol until its hearing.

You can read the full story here.

Hackney Council in personal data breach

Council in personal data breach
Council in personal data breach

A number of Hackney residents have had their personal details – including email addresses and mobile phone numbers in some cases – inadvertently published on the council’s website, as I reveal in a story for the Hackney Citizen:

Papers published on Hackney Council’s website have inadvertently revealed the personal data of a number of residents, an investigation by the Hackney Citizen has found.

Among the personal details discovered were the names, addresses, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of more than thirty residents who had been in touch with the council recently about licensing decisions.

The data featured in documents which had been partially redacted, but redaction had not always been done correctly, allowing personal details to be accessed by anyone who viewed the papers.

You can read the full story here.